Reusse: Easy to cheer for ‘Rollergirl’ — fast, fun and she can handle ‘nasty’

Dave Goldman was sitting on a well-worn chair in the back of the two-station garage at Boulevard Station. He had started a conversation and then his cell phone buzzed.

"Give me a second," he said.

He answered, then started to listen, and said: "It's an Amphicar, right? Bring it in. We'll take a look."

It took him awhile to convince the other party the only solution was to bring it to the garage. When he was finished, I asked Dave: "What's an Amphicar?"

He took a puff on his skinny little cigar, a Backwoods Honey Berry, and said:

"Made in England for five years starting in 1960. Only a few thousand. It's a boat and a car. You put 'em together and you have a bad boat and a bad car. There's a hobby club out here on Lake Minnetonka, so we see a few here."

Goldman grew up in St. Louis Park. When the other Jewish kids in the neighborhood were going to the synagogue or Hebrew school, the Goldman boys were in the garage tinkering with all things mechanical.

"My mom Libby — she's still with us, a remarkable woman — would get upset on Saturdays if we had the garage door open,'' Goldman said. "She didn't want the neighbors to know we were out there working on the Shabbat."

Boulevard Station sits 300 yards west after taking the Minnetonka Boulevard exit on Hwy. 169. Mostly, it's devoted to getting older cars running well again, but if you want a tank of gas, it becomes the 1970s again.

Full serve. Dave or his helpers will put in the gas and wash the front window.

The engine with which Dave is most concerned these days is in the No. 8 Thunder Car driven by his daughter, Taylor, 30, primarily at Elko Speedway.

The season opener for Elko is Saturday, with the gates open to the public at 4:30 p.m. There are 12 racing nights — basically, every other Saturday — between now and the end of September. The Goldmans' plan for 2023 is to run at the La Crosse (Wis.) Speedway on most non-Elko weekends.

"The crowds were huge at Elko last summer, when the weather was good,'' Taylor said. "Traffic was backed up on the freeway. Rumor was, the fire marshal said one night, 'You have to get this crowd under control.'

"That much excitement for racing is good, right?"

Taylor became the first woman driver to win an Elko season championship with her Pro Stocks title in 2018. She's now in Thunder Cars, where the investment is greater and the drivers are very experienced.

"One thing is the same: They don't like getting beat by a woman," Taylor said. "Everything is fine until they see you ahead of them, and then it can get nasty."

Which can work both ways. Taylor has been driving race cars since she was 13 — a small lie allowing her to compete a year before the approved age for a qualified competitor at a NASCAR-sanctioned track.

Dave Goldman had won a track championship at Raceway Park in Savage (and a national championship in Rockford, Ill). And Raceway — closed in 2013 — is where Taylor started in the bottom-rung Bomber class.

One of her first times out, the car flipped and "I went on the roof from Turn 1 to Turn 4,'' she said.

"I was worried that she might not want to race again," Dave said. "All she was worried about is if there would be too much damage to the car to race again the next week."

Dave and Co. got the heap in running condition and she was back … with a nickname at the track nodding to her upside-down wreck: "Rollergirl."

It stuck to the point that the title for her racing effort became "Team Rollergirl."

Her mother is Jane O'Meara — with a working career that ranges from being a bartender a Sgt. Preston's, one of the early gold mines for Mike Andrews, John White, etc. in the Twin Cities bar business, to doing public relations for Manny Jackson when he owned the Harlem Globetrotters.

Dave and Jane have been together for roughly four decades, but have never gone through the formality of marriage. After spending a couple of hours with Dave, I couldn't blame her for such caution.

What a character — and it was inherited from his father, Marvin, who was known so widely by the nickname "Muttel'' that it was in the title for his obituary in 2005.

Muttel ran and owned a piece of various bars around the Twin Cities, including the Pink Pussycat on 14th and Hennepin and the Bear's Den on 15th and Franklin.

"That place on Franklin had a tough crowd … fights most every night," Dave said.

The Bear's Den dated to 1937 and was said to have connections to Kid Cann, the "kingpin" of the Jewish syndicate that was powerful in Minneapolis.

Muttel would not have been unfamiliar with the remnants of that group — nor was our friend Sid Hartman, for that matter.

"Later in life, Muttel became a 'junketeer,' running junkets for gamblers from the Twin Cities — to Vegas, Atlantic City, the Caribbean, wherever his contacts were running casinos," Dave said. "He did very well in that role."

Taylor was standing nearby and I asked: "Did you know Muttel?"

She smiled widely, crossed an index finger with a middle finger and said: "We were like this!"

Not surprised.

Big opener on Saturday at Elko. Go, Rollergirl, on the tires, not the roof.